Legendary WVU alum Jerry West dead at the age of 86

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Perhaps the most famous West Virginia basketball alum in the program’s history has passed away.

Jerry West, who was a two-time All-American at West Virginia, a 14-time NBA All-Star, the third-ever player in NBA history to reach 25,000 points, and whose silhouette is the basis for the historic NBA logo, died at 86 years old on Wednesday morning.

Jerry West was a basketball genius and a defining figure in our league for more than 60 years," NBA commissioner Adam Silver said in a statement. "He distinguished himself not only as an NBA champion and an All-Star in all 14 of his playing seasons, but also as a consummate competitor who embraced the biggest moments."

Affectionately known as “Zeke from Cabin Creek,” West was born a poor coal miner electrician’s son in a region of West Virginia known for coal miners having waged war against coal operators and state officials just 25 years prior.

From these humble upbringings, he became a star at East Bank High School before moving onto WVU, where he averaged 24.8 points per game and led the Mountaineers to the 1959 NCAA championship game. Despite his team’s loss to Cal in the final, he was named the Final Four Most Outstanding Player.

He proceeded to have one of the most successful NBA careers of all-time, both as a player and then as a front-office executive. As an athlete, he was a 12-time All-NBA star in addition to his aforementioned all-star selections, as well as an NBA Finals MVP.

As an executive, West organized some of the most successful Los Angeles Lakers’ seasons in the 1980s and 2000s, and over his executive career secured eight NBA championships. Most recently, he served a stint amongst management with the Los Angeles Clippers, who described West as "the personification of basketball excellence and a friend to all who knew him” in the announcement of West’s passing on Wednesday.

West is a soon-to-be three-time Basketball Hall of Fame member -- he was inducted as a player in 1980, as a member of the 1960 U.S. Olympic Team in 2010, and will join once again later this year as a contributor.

West’s legacy is one that could rarely, if ever, be replicated in the sport, though surely many will aim for such lofty goals and achievements. And even as the game continues to evolve, the name Jerry West will stand the test of time.

"The game transcends many things," West said while attending the 2023 NBA Summer League. "The players change, the style of play may change, but the respect that you learn in this game never changes."